The Tooth Fairy

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

When I was little, I lost a tooth. This may not seem like much to you inveterate tooth-losers, but to me it was a Big Deal. Body parts were falling out of me without my consent. My parents soothingly instructed me to put the tooth under my pillow so that the Tooth Fairy could come and gather it in the night, and in exchange, I might get a reward. I dutifully placed the tooth under my pillow, and I woke up the next morning to find my tooth gone and a quarter under my pillow. I immediately began bawling.

To this day, I’m not entirely sure what caused me so much heartache, but I do remember trying to explain to my father in my 6 year old fashion that a quarter was a hell of a big responsibility to put on a little kid. I was probably trying to say: “I don’t want no stinkin’ money, now give me the damn tooth back.” This may go a long way towards explaining my adult relationship with finance, but be that as it may ….

The legend of the Tooth Fairy’s appearances in my home began to grow at my school, possibly because I made an inordinate fuss about the exchange of quarters for my discarded incisors. At some point my little friend Lydia Emmett discovered that my regular tooth-shedding was yielding a stash of coins and she set about to investigate. As kids will, she eventually discovered that it was my FATHER who was the placer of coins and the snatcher of my young teeth. At that instant he became for her “The Tooth Fairy” and the following year when she moved to California, she wrote to me often and always addressed envelopes as follows:

Anne Shroeder
Daughter of John Shroeder, the Tooth Fairy
Providence, RI 02906

I admit that I was relieved that it was my dad who was actually the Tooth Fairy and not some stranger who snuck into my bedroom at night to ferret around under my pillow. My dad did a lot of really nice things for me over the years, and I’d have to say that leaving quarters for me was only the beginning.

I’ve always scoffed at the concept of the Fairy Godmother, but the Tooth Fairy, now, everyone needs a Tooth Fairy. Unlike a frivolous Fairy Godmother, the Tooth Fairy doesn’t do random acts of kindness we don’t necessarily need – that old Tooth Fairy arrives in the odd hour or on the odd day and takes care of stuff. Real stuff. Stuff that we’ve really no idea what to do about. Magic! I love the image of a large man wearing work trousers and sporting glittery wings hovering about looking for useful things to do.

toothfairy2The miraculous thing is, Star Gazing Farm HAS a Tooth Fairy! Most farms seem to have moderately disgruntled husbands or moderately disgruntled farm workers who only somewhat adequately take care of the things that break; but very few farms have Tooth Fairies. We are very fortunate.

I will not name our Tooth Fairy because it would embarrass him no end; more importantly, I don’t want anyone stealing our Tooth Fairy. But, as an unhandy person who can just barely manage to hammer a nail into the wall to hang a picture, I will testify that the things done by our TF have been nothing short of miraculous.

You see, our Tooth Fairy has a vision for how things need to work, a keen eye for discovering engineering problems, and is like a dog with a bone until solutions are found. He tends to the tractor, the buildings, the fences; insulation and wiring are his friends, technical manuals his delight; and he has a corps of TFEs (Tooth Fairy Elves) who come to dig holes, grunt, hammer, drill, and all stare, mesmerized, at mechanical, plumbing, and electrical problems like they were the Super Bowl.

I do not understand.

Despite my upbringing during the 60’s as an “Independent Woman”, I become the classic helpless, damsel in distress when inanimate objects do things they aren’t supposed to do. Not only am I not interested in their reasons for breaking, falling off, making sparks, or otherwise misbehaving – they make me want to bawl. Just like when I got that first coin for my tooth. “Give me back the working version, and take your damned quarter!”

I think, however, the real magic of the Tooth Fairy is instructional.

In the past I have listened politely to explanations for malfunctions and tried to give decisions on wattage and PVC fittings (not understanding a thing); I have unconditionally shown my appreciation, nay, reverence for the talents of the handy (for appreciating is all I could do). But, until recently, mostly I’ve wanted to crawl back under the covers and only come out when it was safe. When my farm worked again.

barnwithcornerBut here’s the thing about the Tooth Fairy; he wants you to grow up. If the loss of childhood teeth is the harbinger of (gasp) adulthood, then it’s time to grab that quarter and put it to use. Over the last month as I get close to finally having enough funds to build our new barn, I have had to manage the process of trenching, grading, and installing drainage pipes. I’ve had to research and refine the specifications for the building, learning new words like gussets, footers, T1-11, and it’s all scary and quite awful in a thrilling sort of way. When the inanimate object is going to be something that makes the lives of the animals here better – well, that is something worth wrapping my mind around. I shall rise to the occasion, dear Tooth Fairy.

Please check out progress and help us complete our fundraising goal for the new barn at

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